KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After almost a month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Golf Association’s major championship schedule gets underway this week as we travel to Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville to host the Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships.
This year’s Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships is presented by Visit Knoxville, the official provider of visitor information for Knox County and the City of Knoxville. You can find more information at VisitKnoxville.com or stop by the Knoxville Visitor Center at 301 S. Gay Street.
This will be the second consecutive year that both the Boys’ and Girls’ Junior Amateur tournaments will be conducted concurrently at the same course, and TGA executive director Chad Anderson is expecting a great start to the competitive season.
“We are excited to welcome the best juniors in the state to Knoxville this week for Tennessee’s most prestigious three-day junior championship,” Anderson said. “Our focus and main concern over the past three months has been the health and safety of our golfers, staff and families.”
“We feel like we will be able to conduct this championship in a manner that will strictly follow the guidelines in place by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We look forward to crowning two new state champions at Three Ridges!”
Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships tee times
There will be no chance of a repeat champion on either the boys’ or girls’ side as last year’s winners – Jaron Leasure of Nashville and Olivia DiPaolo of Franklin - are ineligible to compete this year. DiPaolo is now on the women’s golf team at Lipscomb University, while Leasure recently graduated high school and is set to begin his collegiate career at the University of Virginia.
There will be no shortage of star power at Three Ridges, though, as both fields are the strongest they have been in recent years.
The girls’ field features 16 of the top 20 golfers in the state according to Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings. Among this list are six golfers who are ranked in the top 300 in the country, including: Lynn Lim, Gallatin (32); Sophie Linder, Carthage (117); Kynadie Adams, Gallatin (132), Isabella van der Biest, Kingsport (149); McKinley Cunningham, Clarksville (179); Lexanne Halama, Knoxville (287).
Lim recently won the Tennessee Junior PGA Championship over a similar field and should be expected to be one of the favorites coming into this week’s tournament. She also won the AJGA Junior All-Star Inivitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee back in October with three straight rounds under par.
Linder has been on a tear on the Sneds Tour over the past month, having played in five Two-Day Masters tournaments and winning three of them. Of the ten rounds she has posted during those tournaments, five of them have been in the 60s, including a 66 and a 67.
Adams finished runner-up to Lim at the Tennessee Junior PGA and also placed fifth at the Dustin Johnson World Junior in early March. Among the other events she has competed in this year was the ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex.
Lim has verbally committed to Vanderbilt University, while van der Biest has committed to the University of Alabama. Cunningham has signed with Ole Miss, while Lexanne Halama has committed to the University of Illlinois.
The boys’ line-up for this week’s Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships is just as strong as only two of the top 30 ranked players in the state who are eligible to compete are missing.
The top-ranked competitor on that list is Knoxville’s Lance Simpson, who is ranked 57th in the country and has committed to the University of Tennessee.
Four other golfers are tabbed between 200-300 in the country and all will be at Three Ridges this week, including: J.J. Zimmer, Humboldt (206); Sheldon McKnight, Apison (239); Patton Samuels, Clarksville (284); and Julian Maxwell, Nashville (297).
Simpson won the Tennessee Junior PGA Championship at Old Hickory earlier this month as he fired rounds of 68 and 64 to win in record-setting fashion, finishing eight strokes ahead of his closest competitor. His only other posted result to the JGS was a third-place finish at the SCJGA Sea Pines Junior Heritage in February.
Zimmer, meanwhile, has been racking up wins on the Sneds Tour since the return from the pandemic, posting three first-place finishes, including last week in a Two-Day Masters event that saw him go 66-68.
The 2020 Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships will be contested over 54 holes (Tuesday, June 23 through Thursday, June 25). The Tennessee Boys’ Junior Amateur was first held in 1945 and has been contested annually every year since 1964. The girls’ championship began that same year.
The Tennessee Junior Amateur Championships are open to junior amateurs who: 1) have a parent/legal guardian who is a resident of the state or 2) possess an active USGA Handicap Index from a TGA member club. Amateurs must meet the USGA definition of an amateur golfer and must not have reached their 19th birthday before June 25, 2020.
Three Ridges Golf Course is one of the premier public golf facilities in Knox County. Set in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains, the course challenges golfers of all skill levels. You are sure to enjoy a great day of golf amid spectacular scenery.
Named one of Golf Digest's “Best Places To Play,” Three Ridges was designed by Ault, Clark and Associates. It features smooth bent grass greens, Bermuda tees and fairways, and 63 strategically placed bunkers. Three Ridges hosts numerous charitable and corporate events, including the Knox County Amateur Championship. In addition, it was the host course for the 2014 and 2015 National Golf Association (NGA) Tournament.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE GOLF ASSOCIATION (TGA)
The Tennessee Golf Association is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1914 to promote the best interests and spirits of the game of golf throughout the state of Tennessee. Among the responsibilities of the TGA are as follows: To promote a voluntary association of golf clubs and golf associations, as defined herein, and individuals, without regard to gender, race, religion, or ethnic background, solely for the betterment of golf and to encourage cooperation and discourse among members of the TGA; To conduct golf competitions, primarily for amateurs, among golf clubs generally within the State of Tennessee; To advance uniform rules and standards consistent with those published by the USGA, especially those related to the Rules of Golf, a Uniform System of Handicapping, Amateur Status, and research associated with the USGA Green Section; To establish and maintain uniform handicap and course rating systems consistent with USGA recommended procedures; To promote junior golf programs, golf education and instruction, and other charitable activities, particularly in association with the Tennessee Golf Foundation, and such other programs determined appropriate by the Board of Directors. The Tennessee Golf Association is located at Golf House Tennessee (400 Franklin Rd., Franklin, TN 37069), along with the Tennessee Golf Foundation and the Tennessee Section PGA.